I love KQED’s excellent QUEST series. Their videos and radio stories present nuggets of science and nature in the most engaging, informative, and watchable way. I’ve already shared their videos on The Science of Cheese and The Science of Sourdough. Today you get to watch their Science of Taste video—a short piece about one of life’s most obvious, but not often analyzed, pleasures.
From the QUEST website: “Did you know that about 95 percent of what we think is taste is actually smell? Or that the way we perceive flavor comes from a complex relationship between our senses, emotions and memories? As scientists decode how our taste and olfactory receptors work, top California chefs are taking that knowledge and creating alchemy in the kitchen.” Enjoy!
On a related note, here are a couple more resources on the science of taste. This article discusses the physiology and psychology of taste, defines the difference between taste and flavor, and explains what a “supertaster” is. (Kind of interesting that more women than men are supertasters—but that there are also more female “non-tasters.“) Salon.com interviews a neuroscientist who explains, among many other things, how a wine expert can be tricked into mistaking white wine for red. And if you’re a sciencey type who likes to cook, you might want to check out Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food—a compendium of food science, interviews, and experiments, with great recipes to tie it all together.